FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS | BOOTH'S BLOG Exclusive Interview With Director Alex Chandon
By James Whittington, Tuesday 23rd October 2012
Alex Chandon is one of the UKs most inventive creatives. His latest movie, Inbred has been hailed by many as one of the best Brit horror movies in ages.
Alex will be introducing three of his favourite horror movies this Thursday from 9pm during his very own Director's Night on the Horror Channel.
Here he chats about his career, the movie Inbred and the plans he has for the future.
HC: You've been around in the movie industry for a while now, how has it changed since you began your career?
AC: Hi. I think its remained very similar for mainstream films, the same people control the monies and funding. The same prejudices against low budget and genre films exist and the same struggles face any film maker/actor trying to get regular work in the industry. It's still a hard, two-faced, back-stabbing industry that is geared up against the creatives (writers/directors) as all the power lies with producers and distributors. But it's changed radically for independent film makers mostly because the technology to make Hollywood-like films is now available relatively cheap to anybody. One can hire RED cameras and edit on the same software that Hollywood uses and that is a huge game changer. I think in 5 years time the power will be with the creatives as we won't need distributors to market our films and we can sell direct to the public via VOD and downloads. Now that will be a time to rejoice! One negative is that a whole lot more sh**t independent films are being made and the market is saturated with low budget horror especially so making a splash has become harder as the competition steps up.
HC: Inbred, your latest feature is released this month. Its already got a cult following, are you tempted to make a sequel?
AC: I've been asked a few times and I say I would like to make a prequel set in the 1970's to show people what the Inbred's were up to back then. I see VW camper vans, hippies and gore all to a cool Hendrix soundtrack!
HC: How did you get Dominic Brunt in the movie?
AC: He asked me! He's a massive horror fan and he heard I was casting up in Manchester and he came along with a copy of Cradle Of Fear he wanted me to sign and asked if there might be a small cameo role for him. That small cameo got a big bigger during discussions and Podge was born! Dom came up with his look, the costume and the dentures and glasses etc. And his strange twitch was his idea!! He was brilliant and I'd love to cast him in another film in a beefier role.
HC: Podge is a superb character, surely a Yorkshire-style salute to Leatherface?
AC: Abso-f*****g-lutely! We added the 'Chain Saw-twirl' as an obvious original TCM reference!
HC: What was it like doing a live commentary for the movie at FrightFest?
AC: Very scary! When it was pitched to me I said, "Yeah, okay" and didn't think it through. Closer to the event I began to realise what a difficult proposition it was to talk non-stop through the film hitting marks and being relevant to the screen and entertaining to a live audience at the same time. So the week before I was s***ting it! I did a run through with a mate that was awful so on the day before I did another run through alone and took advice from others to relax and not get too anal about it and that was the key, my run through was okay and I made notes which I reread a few times on Friday then on Saturday I went down and did it. And it was amazing, once it started I couldn't stop and it was quite an adrenalin buzz and an interesting experience. I revealed things I hadn't planned on a lot of subconscious streamed out. I would say this is not something that everyone should try as it reveals a lot about you. I froze a couple of times but luckily had friends and a few of the film's actors in the audience who would shout out a question or a random thought if they saw me freeze and that got my train of thought going again.
And the audience really enjoyed it! Especially nice was about 10 people in the audience hadn't seen the film prior to this and they really found it interesting and said they loved the film and would be buying a copy. I didn't think it would work at all for people alien to the film but I was wrong. A highlight was something I'd planned with Neil Keenan, he plays Inbred Vern in the film and he also composed and performed the 'Ee By Gum' Inbred folk song (now available on iTunes for 79p!). He brought his banjo and when the folk song plays out the end of the film we performed the 'Ee By Gum' song live and got the whole audience to join in the chorus and then we all marched into the auditorium of the cinema singing the song! We filmed the event and a video is on you tube. It was really funny watching the stunned reactions of people at the bar as a whole audience walks out singing.
Neil has been in every single one of my films since 1991 and is one of my best friends and a very talented musician, very into bluegrass style and plays the banjo and string instruments and so I asked him if he'd come up with an Inbred song. We wanted it to sound English and folky but we wanted it to have a good beat. I'm a massive fan of Southern Comfort and I love the end scene at the Cajun community and they play an awesome Cajun folk song. We loved the beat and Neil homaged that to come up with the 'Ee By Gum' rhythm. Neil wrote the lyrics and organised a recording session with other musicians and basically pulled the whole thing together amazingly.
HC: You've chosen three very different movies for your Director's Night; Tenebrae, The Exterminator and Street Trash. Can you tell us why you choose these particular movies?
AC: I was looking for films that had a big impact on me in my early film making days. The 1980's must rank as the best decade for horror ever and I class myself as very lucky to be growing up in this period. I must have been 14 when I saw The Exterminator and it freaked me out. The opening scene alone was enough for me to put it on the list. Still one of the best and most brutal Vietnam flashback scenes. And still, incredibly, one of the greatest semi-decapitations of all time. I watched it again recently and its not as action packed as I remembered, in fact its a bit plodding, but it has a great sleazy feel to it (reminds me of The Warriors original cut, an all time fave) and is a solid vigilante movie.
Street Trash is great exploitation fun. It's not Bad Taste but it’s a close contender. I always remember being so excited by the Fangoria coverage and slightly let down by the amount of grue in the film when I finally got to see it, but never the less this does have some great FX scenes including one of my favourite severed head reaction gags when he peeks up her skirt. It is a body-melt classic. Check out the amazing Steadi-cam shots as well. I believe the director went off to become the worlds leading Steadi-cam operator after this. Of the three films Tenebrae has stood the test of time the best and is still a startling piece of film making and I think showcases Dario Argento and his minions at the height of their respective powers. This film is totally mind-blowing in many departments. The direction and camera-work and editing and soundtrack are exemplary, this is the kind of film that I've always wanted to make but I'm nowhere near this level of genius yet. I loved this when I was 15 and I love it more now.
HC: Would you like to remake any of them, given the chance?
AC: Interesting question. I don't like horror remakes. I really think Hollywood has f****d up too many 'not-that-old' classics. I really cannot see why someone would want to f**k with the memory of classics such as Day Of The Dead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Halloween, The Evil Dead, Last House On The Left, Robocop, and please, please let the rumour about Videodrome be wrong! So I would only go near a horror remake if we had a really nice budget and some level of control of the end result, a rarity with bigger budgets. Of the three The Exterminator, I feel could have been better so I'd like to give that one a go.
HC: You're a man of many talents, in which job are you at your happiest?
AC: I like to think that my many talents all come together to form my main talent and the thing I enjoy the most. Film-making. I'm lucky to be artistic and use all that to make a film. So I love writing script - the first stage - coming up with crazy ideas is always fun. Then I love preparation which involves storyboarding and discussing set design and camera work. And I just adore directing on set. I forgot how much I thrive on that. Inbred brought it all back. This is what I was made to do I think. But then I love editing, the calm after the storm of filming sitting on my own and chillaxing and cutting scenes together and making the magic work is always a glorious time (as long as I'm not trying to meet a deadline!!) And then I totally adore doing After Effects, composite digital FX work. I still find it amazing these post-production tools are available to me and I can now do all the crazy FX that I dreamed of doing as a 21 year old budding film maker. So I really do genuinely love so much about the whole process.
HC: So what other projects are you working on?
AC: Inbred has been a real labour of love and due to its small-ish budget I've had to do a lot of work on it even down to over-seeing all the deliverables and final archiving and so my work on it has only just finished. That's almost 3 years. I can't wait to start a new project. I have some scripts I wrote just before Inbred, which I still like and I've been inspired in the last year from watching new horror films at film festivals so I have a couple of nice ideas I can't wait to start writing. I'm still very into the horror genre and want to explore a 'scary-as-f**k' movie idea as I'd love to scare people silly one day. I would one day like to do action or sci-fi film. I love Starship Troopers and Robocop and Mad Max 2 and would love to make a crazy violent futuristic piece of mayhem one day!
HC: Alex Chandon, thank you very much.
AC: Cheers Horror Channel! Now please check out our website www.inbredmovie.com and support Inbred!
Alex Chandon's Director's Night is on Thursday October 25th from 9pm.
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